Penrhyn is an Eastern Polynesian language spoken on Penrhyn atoll, part of the Northern Cook Islands in the south Pacific. Penrhyn is classified as a variety of Cook Islands Māori. In 2011 there were about 200 speakers of Penrhyn in Penrhyn atoll, and another 1,300 or so in Rarotonga, New Zealand and Australia. The language is considered endangered, as many speakers are shifting Rarotongan and English.
The Penrhyn language is also known as Penrhynese, Māngarongaro or Tongareva, which is the native name of Penrhyn atoll. The name Tongareva means "Tonga-in-the-skies" or "A way from the south". The name Penrhyn, which means peninsula in Welsh, comes from the name of a ship, Lady Penrhyn, which visited the atoll on 8th August 1788 under the command of William Crofton Sever. It was the first European ship to visit the atoll, and was part of the "First Fleet" of ships carrying convicts to Australia, and establishing European colonies there. The atoll was also known as Bennett Island.
Page last modified: 23.04.21
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